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Leasehold Improvement


Leasehold improvement refers to modifications or alterations made to a leased property to meet the specific needs or preferences of the tenant. These improvements may include changes to floors, ceilings, walls, and lighting, or adding fixed installations like built-in shelves. The expense of leasehold improvements is typically borne by the tenant, and the improvements often become the property of the landlord at the end of the lease term.


The phonetics of the keyword “Leasehold Improvement” is:ˈlisˌhoʊld ɪmˈpruːvmənt

Key Takeaways

  1. Leasehold Improvements refer to any alterations, renovations, or modifications made to a leased space to make it more suitable for the tenant’s needs. These improvements are typically made by and for the tenant and can include changes to walls, floors, lighting, and other elements of the space.
  2. Leasehold Improvements are usually depreciated over the shorter of the life of the lease or the useful life of the improvements. This is because, even though the improvements may still have value at the end of the lease term, they become the property of the landlord and cannot be moved to another location by the tenant.
  3. It is essential for both the landlord and tenant to carefully negotiate the terms of a lease with regard to leasehold improvements. Factors such as who pays for the improvements, who owns them after the lease term is over, and whether the improvements can be removed at the end of the lease should all be clearly addressed in the lease agreement to avoid potential disputes or misunderstandings.


Leasehold improvement is an important concept in business and finance because it refers to the modifications or upgrades made to a rental property by a tenant to meet their specific needs. The expense incurred in making these improvements often leads to a more suitable and functional space for the tenant’s operations, ultimately increasing the efficiency and productivity of their business. Additionally, leasehold improvements can enhance the overall value of the property, benefitting both the tenant and the landlord. In accounting terms, these improvements are considered a capital expenditure and can usually be depreciated over their useful life, offering potential tax benefits for the tenant. Understanding leasehold improvements helps businesses strategically plan for and manage expenses associated with customizing and optimizing their leased spaces.


Leasehold improvements are modifications made to a leased property or space to enhance the tenant’s specific business operations and usage requirements. These enhancements might include changes to the building’s interior, such as constructing or removing walls, updating fixtures, or making additions to existing structures. These improvements have the primary purpose of customizing the layout and functionality of the rented space to better suit the business’s unique needs, ultimately providing a more productive working environment that conforms to the company’s operational structure.

From a business perspective, leasehold improvements are a valuable investment, as they not only create a more efficient and aesthetically pleasing workspace but can also contribute positively to the company’s financial performance. If the improvements lead to increased productivity and customer satisfaction, they may directly impact the business’s profitability. Furthermore, leasing agreements often include clauses outlining who is responsible for leasehold improvement costs, with landlords sometimes sharing the expense as an incentive for businesses to sign long-term tenancy contracts. Therefore, leasehold improvements can be a strategic tool for businesses to improve their operations and negotiate favorable leasing arrangements, ultimately providing an advantage in the competitive world of business operations.


Leasehold improvements refer to modifications or alterations made to a rented space to make it more suitable for the tenant’s needs. These improvements largely benefit the tenant and are often paid for by the tenant, although landlords may also contribute depending on the tenant and lease agreement. Here are three real world examples of leasehold improvements:

1. Restaurant Renovation: A business owner signs a lease to rent a commercial space in a prime location for their new restaurant. The space was previously occupied by a retail clothing store and requires significant alterations to accommodate a commercial kitchen, dining area, and restroom facilities. The business owner invests in leasehold improvements to redesign the space, install kitchen equipment, and create a distinct interior décor to reflect the ambiance of the restaurant.

2. Office Space Customization: A growing tech company signs a lease for office space in a large building. The space is initially an open floor plan, but the company wants to add private offices, conference rooms, and dedicated spaces for different departments. The tenant invests in leasehold improvements to construct walls, add the necessary electrical and networking infrastructure, and tailor the space to meet the company’s specific operational needs.

3. Medical/Dental Office Conversion: A dentist rents a commercial property to set up their dental practice. The space must be converted into a functional dental clinic, which requires adding plumbing and electrical infrastructure for dental chairs, partitioning spaces for examination rooms, waiting areas, and installing specialized equipment. In this case, leasehold improvements are required to adapt the rented space to meet the unique needs of the dental practice.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What are Leasehold Improvements?

Leasehold Improvements are modifications or alterations made to a leased space or property by a tenant to make it suitable for their specific business needs. These improvements can include construction, renovations, installation of equipment, or any other related changes.

Who pays for Leasehold Improvements?

The tenant is usually responsible for the costs of Leasehold Improvements. However, in some cases, the landlord may offer a tenant improvement allowance (TIA) to help cover some or all of the costs.

Can Leasehold Improvements be depreciated?

Yes, Leasehold Improvements can be depreciated. Both the IRS and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) allow the depreciation of Leasehold Improvements over the shorter of the asset’s useful life or the lease term (including any renewal options reasonably expected to be exercised).

Are Leasehold Improvements tax-deductible?

Yes, Leasehold Improvements can be tax-deductible as they are considered capital expenditures. The depreciation of these improvements can be deducted from the tenant’s taxable income, lowering the overall tax liability.

Do Leasehold Improvements add value to the property?

Leasehold Improvements may add value to the leased property for the tenant, as they are customizing the space to better fit their business needs, but they do not typically increase the value of the property for the landlord, particularly if they are specific to the tenant’s operations.

What happens to Leasehold Improvements when a lease ends?

When a lease ends, Leasehold Improvements typically become the property of the landlord. However, the terms of the lease may require the tenant to remove the improvements and restore the space to its original condition, or the landlord may allow the tenant to retain ownership and responsibility for the improvements.

How are Leasehold Improvements treated in financial statements?

Leasehold Improvements are considered fixed assets and are recorded under Property, Plant, and Equipment (PPE) in the balance sheet. They are subsequently depreciated over their useful life or the lease term, whichever is shorter. The resulting depreciation expense is recorded in the income statement.

Can a tenant sell or transfer Leasehold Improvements?

Generally, a tenant cannot sell or transfer Leasehold Improvements without the consent of the landlord, as they are considered part of the leased property. However, the lease agreement may have provisions allowing the tenant to sell or transfer their improvements under specific conditions.

How are Leasehold Improvements different from Building Improvements?

Leasehold Improvements are made specifically by a tenant to suit their requirements within a leased space, while Building Improvements involve changes or upgrades made to the entire structure or common areas by the landlord to improve the overall property. Building Improvements typically increase the value of the property for the landlord.

Related Finance Terms

  • Amortization of Leasehold Improvements
  • Construction Allowance
  • Tenant Improvements (TI)
  • Leasehold Interest
  • Capital Expenditures (CapEx)

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